My Thoughts – If It Matters

As if we all were in some strange, messed up movie, it seems like all days are blending together. Weekends blend into weekdays, weeks into months, while none of us know what’s up from down.

All day long the television is loaded with talking heads, celebrities on Zoom telling us that we are all in this together, and companies somehow trying to convince us that Doritos are just what we need in these “unusual and unprecedented times.” It all becomes so frustrating, so mind numbing, and so confusing. What’s good for us? What do we do? When will this end?

Most of us have spent months trying to determine the best course of action on how to get us out of this, thinking about ways to lead us through the maze that is this virus. All the while trying to adapt to a new normal that is difficult to conceive. Every day we look at graphs, charts, predictions, and any other scientific data and understanding we can. We try to apply anything we have learned to the situation to desperately quell the spread.  And still, we have no answer. We are so close, but at the same time, we fight ourselves, and push ourselves deeper into the hole in every minute.

It’s the people who deny science, then demand a vaccine become available. The people who think the virus is a joke, only to beg for forgiveness when it attacks their lungs and makes it difficult to breathe. It’s okay to not know the answer, none of us do – but to knee-cap the very science and people trying to solve the biggest issue the world has seen in decades is incredibly dangerous, at best – let alone plain disrespectful.

We can go over the numbers again and again. We can talk about how it hit the amount of flu deaths in one month, we can talk about the concerning disease it is causing in the young and healthy, and we can talk about how it is decimating the most fragile our country has. But no matter what, it will only lead down the road of argumentative discourse. We don’t talk, we yell, we don’t think, we assume. All of this can be accepted, as long as we also accept the fact that we really don’t care about each other. It’s fun to pretend like we do, sharing strong words of encouragement, only to later uproot it with our careless actions and hypocritical rhetoric.

In a world where solutions are unknown, we take what we can get, we do what we can do. It’s a simple one at that, wear a mask. However, the word mask alone has turned into a four-letter-word of its own. It no longer is seen as a safety precaution, it’s now seen as a symbol of someone who has given up their rights, and are falling on their knees for the government. Forget the fact that we can still move about as we please, protest at will, and have free speech. To some, the masks are just too much. 

Somehow, we have gotten to the point where we assume doctors, who have spent their entire lives dedicated to scientific research and helping patients, are now part of this elaborate scheme to destroy the world. Some think the media is nothing more than a factory of detrimental fear-mongering information – when in reality, they’re just producing facts. Some feel they very people trying to save are are only trying to gain notoriety, and cash this virus like a check at the bank. 

But most shameful of all, is that we attack them. It’s bad enough not to trust and have faith in the people who know better than us, who have done their research – but it’s a whole other thing to attack them, belittle them, and make them question their own safety. Again coming down to the basic fact that some people only care about themselves, we only want to hear what is good for us, and anything else is evil.

Doctors are here to help, they’re here to care – and they’ll do it whether you feel you need them or not.

Every day we inch closer, to milestones none of us ever thought we’d see. One hundred thousand gone. They were brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and so much more. They had a story, they were meant to be someone, but their life was cut short by a virus that some deem as nothing more than a fabrication. If there is anything that is more painful, is that in someway, their death was in vain. They became the unknown, the disregarded, and the phony. There are some people who don’t know any of them, so for them their lives apparently mean nothing. But to someone else, they were the world, and now the families have to fight a second, possibly more unsettling, battle. The battle against those who simply don’t care.

Over and over again we hear how 99% recover, and “you’re probably going to be fine.” But when did that 1% of life not matter? When did we decide that giving up even a single life is justified in the name of getting a haircut. Out-loud, the argument sounds ridiculous, but it’s the one some use. Maybe deep down they know they are wrong, they feel bad about what they’re doing, but they feel safety in numbers since it never touched them. The 1% only matters when it begins to affect them.

People love to tout that we’re all in this together, but are we really? Do people deep down really care about what their neighbors are dealing with? If packed beaches and patios mean anything, if people totally refusing to follow even the most basic safety precautions, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Maybe the worst thing about this virus is the fact that it exploits the greatest weakness we have. In all reality, and more than likely, you’re going to be fine, but that doesn’t mean your family will be. In a sick twist, you could be your own nightmare, and bring the tragedy to your own doorstep. It’s not something that can be chosen, you can’t just ask it not to spread. We could be our own downfall, and we know it. And what’s most worrisome is that we don’t care. We don’t care that we can spread it to people at the store, the gym, or the var – because we don’t know them.

The virus doesn’t care that you think you’ll be okay, it doesn’t care that you’re a healthy adult, and it doesn’t care about your beach party. You may think there’s no way you’ll spread it, it’s silly. But the virus doesn’t care about that either.

But there is another side – and the fact that all of us truly do have these feelings. We feel invincible, that it can’t happen to us, and that it’s just a boogeyman that is being perpetuated by the very government of our towns. We all want to go back to normal, we all want to hug each other and see our friends again, and we all want to pretend this isn’t happening. But it is.

No one is perfect, I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be. But I hope I can still have respect for others, I hope I can worry about others, and I hope that I do my best to stop this the best that I can. 

It’s okay to have feelings of confusion, disappointment, and even anger at the situation. It’s okay to feel that maybe you’re being a little too cautious, that maybe it’s okay to return to normal and put this all behind us. But what isn’t okay is to be cavalier in logic that makes no sense, to recklessly endanger those around us simply because you’re upset that life isn’t the way you want it to be, and to attack those who are desperately trying to help, while also endangering everything they value – including their own lives. It’s not okay to attack and confront those just trying to do their best, trying to do what they feel is right, just trying to get by.

This virus is something we have never seen before, but unfortunately these attitudes are something we have dealt with forever.

The virus is bad, the virus kills – but what’s worse is how we have handled it. Maybe we can be better, maybe we can finally understand that life isn’t all about us, it’s about everyone. And while you may never know someone affected, they’re there. They’re real, and they’re all human.

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Why Would Anyone Want To Be Creative?

It’s a nice Saturday night, and things seem to be winding down. The clock is inching toward the 1 a.m. tick, but really, the work is just beginning. The drummer is tearing down in the dark, noisy and cold backstage. He’s sweaty, his back is in pain and he’s more tired than if he had run a marathon.

Finally the bags are packed, the car is loaded and it’s time to get the night’s pay. However, he’s informed they simply did not sell enough tickets, and in fact, he owes the promoter $75 for the unsold goods. Not enough of his friends ended up making the show to cover the cost. Whether they were busy, or simply uninterested, the reason doesn’t matter. He, and the rest of the band, scrounge up what they didn’t spend at the burger joint earlier and pay their way out the door — working for a net negative. Oh well, maybe someone liked the new song they wrote.

It’s 11 p.m. The camera is on its dock, the SD card that is filled to capacity is loading onto his laptop. While about 90% of the photos aren’t up to par, there really are some he’s excited about. While the loading bar slowly slides to the right as progress is moving along, he decides to check his email, hoping there may be a response to one of quite literally hundreds of applications he’s put out over the weeks. Maybe someone has finally bought some of his work online – he’s already priced them as low as he can.

Nothing. But hey, apparently he has a rich uncle in a faraway land that is leaving him an inheritance, and all he has to do is email away his closest information. Sounds promising!

While both events sound like fiction, both are real, and both are mine.  Going through life with a creative mind, can seem like a superpower to most, can almost be a curse. As the years go on, gigs get harder to find, we plumet the asking price of works we pieced together over hours, and we patiently wait for someone to want what we have worked so hard to create.  While it’s not all doom and gloom, and I don’t intend to make it seem that way, it feels more and more that creativity just isn’t as respected as it once was, a fact that should be disappointing to us all.

I have been creative since I was a kid. I was never good at math or science, but I could tell a story to anyone. I had a weird ability to create a reality around me that seemed to spew from the recess of my imagination. Sometimes I’d draw (though admittedly not well), sometimes I would build roller coasters from old car tracks and legos, and sometimes I’d even simply scrawl ideas onto a crude journal I used to keep in my toybox. It made me happy, even though I didn’t really see it that way at the time. It was just something to do.

Eventually, I grew up. I learned an instrument, got into photography and still wrote from time to time. I abandoned my initial idea to be a meteorologist to go to college to be a radio broadcaster, and do photography on the side.

I was good at it, and I knew it. I loved cracking the mic, taking snapshots of what I saw around me and sharing it with others. At the time, I was still living the college dream, so I didn’t consider what was about to come: real life, bills and job prospects.

As things went on, jobs suddenly seemed scarce, the opinions people had of my work started to affect me more, and I started to blame myself for not going into something different. I had found something I was good at, and that I loved, but why did it have to be this? Why did it have to be the arts? Self-loathing set in from time to time, especially when I saw my peers going on to do great things in their fields such as nursing, business, etc.

Oddly enough, I never doubted my talent. I knew what I could do and I was proud of my talent, but I slowly became more bitter toward the way people view the works of others. Sure, I don’t know how to balance a company budget, I don’t know how to do your taxes, but I still have value. I can create your website, I can make things beautiful and I can entertain you. So why is this not respected? Why am I still struggling to scrape by, when my master’s degree is higher than even some of my colleagues?

It was easy for me to fall into the trap of anger toward things I cannot control, such as other’s lives and opinions. I also understand that people generally do not do such things on purpose; people aren’t inherently that condescending. However, I feel I have finally touched on what makes the creative field so difficult: Everyone thinks it’s easy.

Right now, you could go to an infinite number of websites and see an infinite number of things. Photography, music, art or stocks — the world is your oyster. This makes it indescribably easier to share works, ideas, thoughts and just about anything you want. Ironically, this is also a disaster for anyone hoping to base their income on such. It gives the field a facade that these things can be done in less than an hour, posted and create revenue, whether this is photography, music, podcasts or anything else that stems from imagination. It lowers the value of the very thing we’re trying to create. In a world of constant information being thrown in every direction, it’s easy to see how creative arts can get lost in the shuffle, and how their value can sink.

These things aren’t as easy as everyone makes it seem, however. No matter what artistic route you take, it can be a lengthy and difficult journey. A single piece takes time, effort, patience and mostly…luck. Just like in other fields, sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. And while this is fact, there is no artist out there that doesn’t love discovery and creation of a new piece, and the road it took to get there. There is nothing wrong with this, but sometimes we forget just how difficult it can be, and how loud the self-criticism can be.

Again, my work won’t ever save a life, balance a budget or even stock a shelf. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important, it doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of respect, and it definitely does not mean it’s not worth its weight in society.

I’ll never stop being creative, and if you’re creative too, you shouldn’t either. While it can be stressful and scary at times knowing you’ve worked so hard in your life to get to a certain point, only for it to seem like it means nothing, it will always be the most fulfilling thing I can think of. No matter what, my art means something. And if it only means something to me, that’s just fine.

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Missing Arizona

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Sometimes, especially recently, I think about how easy the cacti have it in the desert sands of Arizona. They have been social distancing for decades, waiting around for the occasional spring rain.

Some have been there so long, they have seen the city grow, blossom, and became what it is today – visitors and all.

It’s so quiet in the mountains, you can hear a pin drop and the worries of the world are nonexistent. It makes me want to be there, and to forget all that we are dealing with.

Quiet nights, hot days, and the relaxing calm of the valley of the sun. I miss it – and I am eager to get on a plane and return.

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Summer Rising

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Are we finally there? Have we finally reached the top?  It’s hard to tell, but hope spring eternal, and as long as we have hope, we have a chance.

I miss this beach above in San Diego, it quickly became one of my favorite spots in the country. I dream of going back, and I dream of seeing this part of the country again. Now more than ever, I won’t ever take something like this for granted again.

We are so close, we can smell the flowers. It’s almost done.

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A Glimpse Into The Future

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Rain, snow, and the Summer sun – all in a weeks work for Ohio.

Almost teasing us with what we (may) have to look forward to, this state is a master at giving us a glimpse of a warm reprieve, then taking it away.

It seems now that every day is a new story, a new chapter, and a new world entirely that we will talk about for generations to come. While this photo was taken in a brief moment of hope, it soon turned back to bitter cold and white snow – reminding us where we truly live.

Soon this will be behind us, and we’ll probably have something else to worry about. But for now, we wait, and drink a lot of coffee.

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The First Night Of A Strange Summer

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What a night tonight.

Is it Summer?  Will it ever be summer?  WHO KNOWS. The good thing about it though is that while it won’t feel like summer for a little while, it will at least look like it.

I decided to cheer myself up a little bit and prepare the house for all of the cool nights, warm bonfires, and cold drinks. Only issue is that we had to do it alone. Nevertheless, after putting up our favorite lights, I noticed that there was still something normal for me to take a photo of, even in these wild times.

It was a bit of normalcy I very much welcomed. It was on a whim, and just an event of perfect timing. Hopefully we will all have this moment soon, and we can all play some corn-hole together – less than 6 feet together.

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Waiting On Spring

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As We Wait

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Time goes on, I guess.

It’s unreal to really think about the situation we’re in, and when — seemingly if — it’ll end.

The biggest issue is not that we’re on this lockdown, but that we don’t know when it will finally be over. People aren’t good with uncertainty, I chiefly among them. It adds to stress, mystery, and honestly pure misery.

A lot of us have lost our jobs, some for good. We don’t know if everything is going to be okay, we don’t know if our family and friends are going to be okay.  All that we really know is that we’re going through this together, and that eventually there will be a greener side of the fence.

Hopefully.  Let’s just hold onto that.

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The Media: What Are We Afraid Of?

We all have that one friend, you know them. They’re perky, full of energy, and most of all – they tell it like it is. No matter the situation they find themselves in, no matter where they are and no matter who they’re talking to, they have no filter. Sometimes that can be a good thing, especially when we really need to hear the truth. Though there are sometimes where it can be tough.  In short, the truth hurts. No matter what, however, we treasure them, and love having them as a friend. This friend doesn’t judge us for what we said when we had a little too much to drink, doesn’t think differently of us when we get a little angry. They’ll tell us exactly what we need to hear, when we need to hear it. They’re a security blanket.

For the world, that friend is the Media.

Today, we live in a world where the media can be thought of as vile, cruel, unnecessary and unfortunately – fake. But why? Why do we treat the media this way? Something that is so necessary for not only the dissemination of important, and sometimes life-saving, information, but also something that helps keep our lives and officials in check. Is it because we are afraid of what the truth is? Maybe deep down, we’re terrified at what the reality of life is, and what the news can be. Maybe since we don’t know what to do with the truth, we turn to anger, anger from where it came — like shooting the messenger. Or maybe it’s something different altogether. Regardless, anger and mistrust towards the media is a dangerous, and saddening thing, and it needs to end.

Everywhere you look you can find instances of people calling the media fake, or vindictive, however this couldn’t be further from the truth.  The media’s job is to report the facts, and that’s what they do. Sadly however, some people think they can fight the facts, diminish them as lies, and blame the media for the divisions among us. This can be more dangerous than even some of the stories being reported.  When we begin to vilify the media and the press, we give the impression that the very thing that is trying to protect us is evil. Just like that friend that would always speak their mind, the media sometimes tells us things we don’t want to hear — they tell us that we were wrong, and that can be difficult for some to accept.

This year has been a year of turmoil, tension, and just a general feeling of the unknown. But no matter what, no matter what was going on, the media was still running, and still getting crucial information to us accurately, and timely. This year we saw one of the worst pandemics this country has ever seen rock the economy and our daily lives.  But whatever was happening in the world, good or bad, we had friends on the front-lines, the front-lines of information. We craved it, we needed it, and it comforted us. 

The media isn’t just talking heads at 8pm, it’s not just writers for the world’s largest news outlets — it’s local people too, it’s our neighbors, and it’s our friends.  It’s the people on local news, broadcasting on the radio and writing for our local papers. They are the ones having our back in this time of great need for information. It’s our friends who are going to local hospitals, police departments, and other government agencies so we can have an informed day, and they never complain.  The pay is low, and the hours are rough — but being in the media is so much more than that. It’s about helping people, and making sure our community is informed.

What some people don’t realize though is that the media is composed of people, living people who are simply dedicated to reporting the facts. They are people who want to do nothing else than to make a difference, and report on the world around us.  It’s a tough, and sometimes dangerous job that not everyone could do. Long hours, low pay, and now the unfortunate stigma that comes from saying you work in the media. But why? What will we ever get from this? Journalists aren’t there to spread misinformation or lies. They’re there to open our eyes to what is going on, and change our lives for the better. But for some reason, when the story makes us uncomfortable, we turn to anger. We feel it as a personal attack — we’re afraid of how the world can actually be.  

Having a free press and media is a blessing, because it’s not this way all over the world. In some points on the globe, you can’t have free thought, you can’t have an opinion, and you can’t think for yourself.  But in this country, the free press is a pillar of our government, and for a good reason. Sadly, not everyone is perfect, and not everyone is honest, and if we let this go unchecked it can cause horrible imbalance in the government we love and trust.  Sometimes this comes at the expense of someone’s reputation, sometimes, this causes someone to lose their job, and sometimes it even sends someone to jail. But just because it may be painful doesn’t make the facts any less true. Biases aside, they make no difference, all media have one goal — the truth.

We’re not always going to be happy with what the media has to say, and that’s okay. It’s okay to not be happy with everything you read or see on television, or hear on the radio.  When it becomes a problem is when we start to believe that we can’t ever be wrong, or that there is some deeper agenda in the press simply stating the facts of what is going on around us. But knowing what’s wrong leads you to how to fix the issue, and makes us better people. The media is not there to ruin lives, or induce panic, but to help.  It’s there to keep us informed, keep us in the loop, and create a world with open and free channels of knowledge. We can learn so much from the media and become a well-rounded society. Words will always give you away, much more than actions. If we’re so distrustful of the media, maybe the facts they’re reporting truly are revealing something deeper.

Now more than ever, we need information, and we need accurate information.  Thankfully for us,this is exactly what the media can provide. From warnings of an approaching hurricane to the daily traffic report, it’s information that makes our lives easier and safer. However there is another purpose for the media, a responsibility it willingly carries. This responsibility is to keep our world in order and our government in check, and this can be the most difficult part of all.  There is so much more to this life than all of the negative, you just have to look for it. And when things go right and life is going well, the media will be there to tell you.

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